claaarky - 6:04 pm on Jun 18, 2012 (gmt 0)
Interesting post this Planet13. I've been raising this question with my current and previous SEO constantly since Panda hit in April 2011.
We're the same as you, ecommerce site with a blog on the main domain, hit by Panda in April 2011 and still haven't recovered. We had a warning in our WMT account just before Panda hit about Wordpress being out of date and that our version could be vulnerable to hackers which could create a bad user experience. We updated it immediately but then I started questioning whether the blog content (which was produced by the SEO company at the time) was worthwhile and whether that could be part of our problem.
The advice to me has always been keep it, on the basis it's original content (by that I mean written by us or for us - not necessarily saying anything new though). It's not a great read in my view and doesn't give the impression we are authorities in our niche so, like you, I think we should get rid. It was just an SEO tactic and I'm sure Google knows SEO's recommend this as a way to get a constant stream of fresh unique content onto your site, so I suspect it counts towards the 'shallow' content count unless it's actually really good, relevant, unique content. So my view is it could be harming you if it's rubbish content.
Interestingly our biggest competitors have either abandoned their blogs or have them on a subdomain. They either don't see the need to have blog content, or are nervous about having that content associated with their main domain.
Our problem like most ecommerce sites is the uniqueness of our product pages and the volume of them compared to the blog or any other pages of content that are 100% our own content. I like Viral's advice - build the non-ecommerce content of the site (great content though, not content for contents sake) until it eclipses the ecommerce content and then maybe you'll tip the balance.
The key though is of course the quality of the content regardless of whether that's in a blog section of the site or elsewhere. Personally, if you think it's rubbish I'd remove it, but you'll need to replace it with stuff you think is good, or put a lot more work into your buying pages to improve the level of great content on those.....or ideally both.
I've recently started adding author tags to our blog articles and it's a good test of what good content is. If you'd put your name to it and have a picture of yourself in the search results for that article, it's probably okay. Unfortunately I've only been prepared to put my name to 25% of our blog content, which probably says it all.